The TeamSky rider was led out for the sprint by Geraint Thomas, who himself had produced a superb ride to take second place behind Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) in the individual time trial which opened the Giro d'Italia.
Thomas, who has spent much of the season on the track and was part of the Team GB team pursuit squad which smashed the world record in winning gold at the recent World Championships in Australia, set a fastest intermediate time of 5:14 after 4.5km which was to stand for the rest of the day.
He crossed the finish line in 10:35 but was only afforded a brief stay at the head of affairs as Phinney, who had set off four minutes after him, subsequently produced a power-packed display on the long drag to the line to stop the clock in 10:26.
Back to stage two and at the end of the 206 kilometres route around the Danish city of Herning the Team Sky rider was brilliantly led out by Geraint Thomas before moving alongside Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and accelerating past his former team-mate on the drag to the line for a clear-cut triumph, Geoffrey Soupe (FDJ-Big Mat) taking third.
There was drama in behind when Theo Bos (Rabobank) crashed on the final corner, careering into Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and halting a large proportion of the peloton.
It was Cavendish's eighth individual stage victory at the Giro, his fifth success of the campaign and his first since the birth of his first child last month. The triumph saw him move to the top of the points standings, claiming the red jersey which had been sported by Thomas on behalf of Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), the winner of the opening time trial.
A chaotic finish to the third stage of the Giro d'Italia saw both world champion Mark Cavendish and race leader Taylor Phinney involved in a high-speed pile up. Team Sky's Cavendish was just launching his bid for back-to-back wins at the end of the 190km route when Androni Giocattoli rider Roberto Ferrari appeared to move out sharply from the left.
Cavendish could do nothing to prevent his front wheel being taken from beneath him as he crashed to the road but thankfully he was able to get back on his feet and carry his bike across the line.
Report and photo courtesy of : www.teamsky.com